Extend Your Christmas Tree’s Lifespan: Boiling Water, Food, & More

  • By: SFUAA
  • Date: May 22, 2022
  • Time to read: 7 min.

If you’re getting a fresh cut Christmas tree to celebrate the holidays, you want to get the most life out of your Christmas tree you can get out of it.

There are a number of tips and tricks for helping your tree last longer, but which ones are real?

For one, boiling your water is a great trick:

Boiling your Christmas tree’s water can actually help your Christmas tree last longer when compared to just using water straight out of the tap.

It’s only necessary to do this the first time you add water, however.

Let’s talk about why this is the case. 

Should You Boil Water For Your Christmas Tree?

It’s recommended to boil water for your Christmas tree when you put it up and have to water it for the first time.

The reason is that fresh-cut trees have sap running through them. Fresh sap will eventually dry up and harden, so when between when the tree is cut and you put the tree into the stand, it will seal up the trunk, preventing water from reaching most of the branches and needles.

This will cause them to dry out quickly, making your Christmas tree ugly in a very short amount of time.

If you pour boiling water into the stand first instead of using cold water, however, it will melt any sap in its way and allow the water to reach more branches.

This will keep your tree looking healthy and green for weeks after it has been cut.

The sap being loosened up will allow more water to be able to make its way through the trunk and into the branches to nourish those precious needles.

Without doing this, water may not travel up the trunk as well to keep your tree looking healthy. This can lead to your tree drying out more quickly.

And since a dry tree is more of a fire hazard than a healthy tree, it’s definitely recommended that you use the boiling water trick.

Just be sure you don’t pour boiling water into the tree base as soon as it’s done; let it sit for a few minutes before pouring it in. 

You shouldn’t need to boil water again unless you notice your tree is drying out or having trouble absorbing water; in that case, repeat this step.

Should You Add Sugar To Your Christmas Tree Water?

This might sound like another one of those old wive’s tales, but adding some sugar into your Christmas tree’s water can help to keep your tree nourished and looking good for a longer period of time. This also helps save you from having to find and buy Christmas tree food. 

The sugar adds nutrients to the water that will feed the tree, helping it stay fresher and healthier for longer. 

The sugar that you use for this doesn’t have to be anything fancy: normal sugar is all that you need. Add about 3 tablespoons of it for every quart of water in the stand. If your tree has a larger reservoir, simply mix more as needed.

It should be noted that this only works with live trees and shouldn’t be done if you have an artificial one.

If you want to take it up a notch then you can try mixing in some vinegar or aspirin as well. Vinegar helps to lower the pH levels of the water which will help keep your tree in better shape. Aspirin is said to do the same thing, so isn’t necessary if you’ve already added vinegar.

You should also add some bleach to the water as well. (This should be done after the water cools down.)

Christmas Tree Food Recipe

If you want a recipe for Christmas tree food that will keep your tree looking better longer, try this:

  • 1 Quart Water
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Bleach

You can increase the ingredients to make as much as you need. The bleach will help prevent bacteria from growing in the solution both for your safety and to keep the tree healthier longer.

This should still be replaced every day (ideally) or every 2-3 days at the longest.

The sugar will help your tree produce some energy (being close to the sugars trees use for storing energy anyways) to stay alive a bit longer.

This recipe works with cut flowers as well. Just think of your tree as a giant cut flower.

How Often Should You Water Your Christmas Tree?

Christmas trees need to be watered often when they are in your home because they go through their moisture extremely fast.

You essentially want to ensure that there is always water in the base of your Christmas tree.

A good way to make sure that your tree has enough water is by checking the trunk of the tree every morning and evening. If there is less than 2 inches of water in the container at the bottom of the trunk, add more water immediately!

This will guarantee that you don’t run out of water and forget, as the tree will dry out very quickly if it goes without water for too long. 

Your tree may use upwards of a gallon of water when you first bring it home due to it being out in the sun and losing moisture.

Once it’s been properly re-hydrated, it will use less water. (Around 1 quart per day.)

That doesn’t mean you can leave it for days at a time if you have a big enough water reservoir in your tree base. Water should be changed every day if you’re just using normal water, and at least every 2 or 3 days if you’re using the tree food recipe above. (Though daily is still ideal.)

The first time you do this you should use boiling water, as stated above.

When you have done your first round of boiling water, you will want to stick with cool or cold water for subsequent waterings. Don’t make the water ice cold, as that can cause that sap to freeze right back up into the tree trunk’s pores. 

How Long Can Your Christmas Tree Go Without Water?

A Christmas tree can typically go up to 8 hours outside of water without suffering any major issues as long as it was properly hydrated to begin with.

This is assuming it’s inside or at least under some sort of shade or shelter. If it’s outside in the elements, it will lose a lot of water within 12 hours, and it can cause issues if it’s not able to replenish that water.

One word of warning, though, that affects how long your tree can go without water:

You need to be careful about where you place your Christmas tree inside your home. The tree needs to be out of direct sunlight and away from heating vents, fireplaces, and any other heat sources, which can dry out the tree and make it more dangerous.

Although the Christmas tree in front of the fireplace is a classic look it’s not so good for the tree if you’re using a real tree.

Can You Water A Christmas Tree Too Much?

The only thing that you can really do wrong when it comes to watering a Christmas tree is not doing it at all.

If you put your Christmas tree into a base that is designed to support a Christmas tree, it’ll be pretty much impossible to overwater it. Your tree needs a lot of water a day; about a gallon maximum and at least a quart at a minimum. 

Thus, you can measure it out, or just make sure you refill the base when the water gets to a certain level. If you try to overwater your tree, the water will most likely just spill out of the top, and you’ll make a big mess. 

Should You Spray Your Christmas Tree With Water Too?

You can spray your Christmas tree with lukewarm or room temperature water to help keep it looking healthy.

You can do this once a day. If you have lights on your Christmas tree, they need to be unplugged and dry before plugging them back in. 

If you don’t do this, your tree should still be fine if it’s watered from the base enough. Spraying the tree will just prolong its life a little bit more. 

How Do You Prevent Your Christmas Tree From Drying Out?

When you take your tree home, before you put it in water, cut the trunk a little bit (an extra inch or two) more if you are able to.

The trunk has the ability to absorb water the absolute best when it is placed into water shortly after it’s cut. 

Be sure that your tree always has access to water, as well. Chances are, you’re looking at needing to add water to your tree’s base every day. Be sure your tree is away from anything that can dry it out, like near a heat or air source. When your tree is dry, it’s also easier for it to become a fire hazard. 


There are a number of ways to increase the useful lifespan of your cut Christmas tree. Boiling your tree water, using Christmas tree food, and spraying your tree’s needles down are just a few.

If you try all of the tips in this post in combination, you’ll definitely give your tree the longest life that you can give it.

Happy Holidays!

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